Social Technology and the Potential for Organic Business Networks

Michael Fauscette

Guest Blog Post by:  Michael Fauscette, IDC

There has been a lot of discussion around the topic of social business, or social enterprise, over the last few years. The concept of applying emerging technologies from the social Web, combined with changes in processes and culture, has the potential to provide benefits across the enterprise over a wide range of operations impacting employees, customers, partners and suppliers. Companies are using social tools to build out enterprise social networks that provide, among other things, a people-centric collaborative and knowledge sharing work environment which over time can breakdown organizational silos.

On the outside of the business, social technology is adding new ways to support customers, market to prospects and customers, and even support the sales process. We’re also seeing new ways of connecting partners to the business that increases collaboration and innovation. All of the new "connectivity" is, I think, leading businesses to a business model built around the concept of the network or ecosystem instead of the old "stand-by-yourself" approach.

So, if you think about businesses as networks in the context of all of the other technical and cultural change factors that we're seeing in the new information economy, you can start to see that there’s a lot of potential for co-innovation and collaboration that was very difficult to arrange before. This networked business model, or what I've started to call “organic business networks,” is the business model of the information economy.

The word “organic” could be confusing, but when I use it in this context, I’m thinking it has similar traits to organic computing. Organic computing is a computing system that is self-optimizing, self-healing, self-configuring, and self-protecting. More broadly, organic models are generally patterns and methods found in living systems used as a metaphor for non-living systems.

Applying an organic model, organic business networks are networks that represent the interconnectedness of the emerging information business environment. Organic business networks connect people, data/information, content, and IT systems in a flexible, self-optimizing, self-healing, self-configuring, and self-protecting system. People are the primary nodes of the network, but the other nodes — data, content, and applications/systems — are no less important.

A business built around the organic business network business model would incorporate the characteristics of a social business, but go beyond the basics—i.e., use social business as the operational paradigm, but also use organic business networks as the mode of operating the business. The two concepts complement each other: social business is the “what,” and the organic business network is the “how.”

An organic business network lets the business work go outside of traditional organizational boundaries and become the continuously adapting implementation of an optimized business strategy. Value creation can move to the optimal point in the network, depending on strategic influencers such as the economy, market dynamics, customer behavior, prospect behavior, partner behavior and needs, supply-chain dynamics, predictive business outcomes, etc.

An organic business network driven company is the antithesis of a hierarchical, rigid, reactive, process-constrained, and siloed organization. Instead, the business can adapt to changing conditions, leverage assets effectively, and thrive in a hyper-connected, global competitive, information-driven environment.

Join me for this upcoming webcastTo hear more on this topic – I’ll be presenting in the next webcast of the Oracle Social Business Thought Leader Webcast Series - “Organic Business Networks: Doing Business in a Hyper-Connected World” this coming Thursday, June 21, 2012, 10:00 AM PDT – Register here

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